Next month I will be giving two talks at St. Thomas University in Minneapolis. I’ll be focussing on how environmental communication needs to help build a culture of sustainability (or whatever you prefer to call an ecologically and socially just future) while it tries to address immediate issues. Here are the summaries.
Achieving sustainability will require more than just clean energy sources, protecting the oceans, eliminating poverty and the rest of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. To support all of these, we need a transition to a culture of sustainability. That means our beliefs, values, aesthetics, worldviews, and institutions – in sum, our culture, must change. For that to happen, communication about ourselves and our place in the world must necessarily evolve. We need a new story about who we are as a species.
In the short to medium term, environmental communicators urgently need to find more effective ways to convince people and organizations to act to protect the Earth and its inhabitants. That communication must also cultivate the kinds of values and perceptions of the world that will support long-term ecological and social sustainability. That’s “talking like a mountain.”
It’s a great collection of papers, certainly suitable for a course. And in case you are wondering, I get no money from the book sales. I signed the paper over to Routledge and that’s that. Continue reading →
Bruno Takahashi, Carol Terracina-Hartman, Katie Amann, and Mark S. Meisner “Headlining Energy Issues: A Content Analysis of Ethanol Headlines in the U.S. Elite Press,” presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) 2014 Conference, Montréal, Québec, August 8, 2014. Continue reading →
Mark S. Meisner “Consciousness Raising,” in Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices, Vol. 1, Ed. Debra Rowe, pp.155-158. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2014.
“As a strategy for social change, consciousness raising can be defined as a form of communication or any activity aimed at increasing people’s awareness of specific conditions and/or ways to address them. In the sustainability context, this means raising awareness about social and environmental issues and problems, as well as about sustainable alternatives. For example, consciousness raising can mean educating people about the risks of biocides and the industrial food system as well as promoting local organic agriculture as an alternative. Either way, the purpose is to get the broader public interested in the cause and then engaged in doing something about it. Consciousness raising is thus a crucial first step in solving social problems….”
Bruno Takahashi & Mark S. Meisner “Re-examining the Media-Policy Link: Climate Change and Government Elites in Peru,” Chapter 6 in Culture, Politics & Climate Change: How Information Shapes our Common Future, Edited by Deserai A. Crow and Maxwell T. Boykoff. London: Routledge, 2014.
The ways in which the mass media report on policy and scientific issues such as climate change have an influence on the attention to–and understanding of–such issues by decision makers. However, the study of such influence has been quite limited. This chapter is motivated by this gap in the literature, as well as by limited research about media and climate change in developing countries. We want to understand the ways in which media coverage of climate change interacts with individual traits (e.g. values, knowledge, attitudes) of national legislators in Peru, and how such interaction influences the design of policies. Additionally, it focuses on the circumstances that allow such effects to occur. The results reveal that a low policy information environment, coupled with issue attributes, enables both the media and alternative sources of information such as the Internet to play an important role in shaping how legislators perceive the issue and act upon it. In a highly vulnerable country such as Peru, the need to increase information of local issues related to climate change is necessary.
Mark S. Meisner & Bruno Takahashi “The Nature of Time: How the Covers of the World’s Most Widely-Read Weekly News Magazine Visualize Environmental Affairs,” Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, Vol.7 No.2, pp. 255-276, 2013.
Scholars of environmental communication acknowledge the importance of visual representations in shaping perceptions and actions in relation to environmental affairs. Unlike with other media, including newspapers, television and film, research on the visualization of nature and environmental issues in magazines is rare. This study focuses on the covers of Time magazine, one of the world’s most influential news weeklies. A data set that includes all relevant covers from 1923 to 2011 is examined using a combination of quantitative and qualitative content analysis to analyze the visual representation of nature and environmental issues. The results show that the presence of environmental issues and nature on the covers has increased over the decades. Furthermore Time takes an advocacy position on some environmental issues, but it is a shallow one that is weakly argued through less-than-engaging imagery and fails to offer much in the way of solutions or agency to the reader.
Bruno Takahashi & Mark Meisner “Environmental Discourses and Discourse Coalitions in the Reconfiguration of Peru’s Environmental Governance,” Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, Vol.6, No.3, 346-364, 2012.
Environmental discourses are considered precursors to policy decisions as they delimit the range of policy options. The mass media are an important arena for those discourses and the discourse coalitions engaged in struggles to define policy and political issues. The study of such discourses requires an expansion to contexts outside developed countries, but within the influence of global forces, especially in how dominant global discourses influence national policy making. This article focuses on the competing discourses in the debate about the creation of the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment as portrayed by the media and the actors involved in the process. The results show a debate dominated by neoliberal discourses of administrative rationalism and economic rationalism, intertwined with the environmental requirements of a free trade agreement between Peru and the USA. In this case, democratic and environmental justice concerns—from both indigenous rights and anti-hegemonic perspectives—were marginalized. The study presents the operationalization of theoretical categorizations of environmental discourses within the concepts of storylines and discourse coalitions.
Bruno Takahashi & Mark Meisner “Mass-Media Coverage of Climate Change in Peru: Framing and the Role of Foreign Voices” in Across Borders and Environments: Communication and Environmental Justice in International Contexts, ed. Stacey Sowards, Cincinnati: International Environmental Communication Association, 2012.
Media coverage of climate change has been an area of continued research during the last few years, mostly with a focus on developed countries. This study attempts to contribute to this body of work by analyzing the coverage in a developing country. The study presents a content analysis of newspaper coverage of climate change in Peru through the study of frames, geographical focus, and climate change strategies (mitigation/adaptation). Additionally, the role of foreign voices is assessed by comparing news coverage by Peruvian reporters with the news coverage by wire services and by determining the types of sources present in the articles. Results show a prevalence of an effects frame, followed by a politics frame. Also, the study found a significant number of stories originating from wire services. In general, coverage prioritizes mitigation strategies and policies while providing limited attention to adaptation, which can be inadequate for a highly vulnerable country.
Bruno Takahashi & Mark Meisner “Climate Change in Peruvian Newspapers: The Role of Foreign Voices in a Context of Vulnerability,” Public Understanding of Science, Vol.22 No.4, 427-442, 2013 (first published online February 20, 2012).
Media coverage of climate change has been an area of continued research during the last years, mostly with a focus on developed countries. This study attempts to contribute to this body of work by analyzing the coverage in a developing country. The study presents a content analysis of newspaper coverage of climate change in Peru through the study of frames, geographical focus, and climate change strategies (mitigation/adaptation). Additionally, the role of foreign voices is assessed by comparing the coverage by Peruvian reporters with the coverage by wire services, and by determining the types of sources present in the articles. Results show a prevalence of an effects frame, followed by a politics frame. Also, the study found a significant amount of stories originating from wire services. In general, coverage prioritizes mitigation strategies and policies while providing limited attention to adaptation, which can be insufficient for a highly vulnerable country.
Bruno Takahashi & Mark Meisner “Comparing Influences on Peruvian Climate Change Policy: Information, Knowledge, and Concern Among Political Elites,” Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, Vol.40, No.3, 181-202, 2011.
Climate change is considered as the most important contemporary global environmental problem. Despite research efforts from the social sciences to understand how individuals perceive the problem, few studies have focused on policy makers, specially in developing countries. This study seeks to determine the similarities and differences between elite government groups in Peru. It focuses on the knowledge about climate change, environmental concern, and sources of policy information, and how these factors affect policy preferences. Studies in other countries reveal that these factors can influence both the prioritization of environmental policy issues and the content of policy proposals.